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Thread: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and advice

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    updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and advice

    What a great site this is! Thanks for being here.

    We bought a house three years ago with an existing in-ground pool. It's an odd shape, but when we do the math, it's about 13,000 gallons. Small. We think the pool (and possibly much of the equipment?) dates from the late 1980s.

    It's got a single-speed 1 HP pump, and a 3/4 HP booster pump, which runs a Polaris 280.

    It's noisy and expensive to run, so we got a few bids on replacing the pump with a variable speed pump. The bids come in at about $400-600 more than the pump costs. So my husband, who is a very good DIYer (he's done some plumbing, done some electrical, but never replaced pool equipment) thinks he can do it himself.

    But here are the questions:

    1. Everyone in our area seems to recommend replacement with a 3 HP Pentair Intelliflo VS pump. Does that seem like a good/reasonable replacement? Replacing 1 HP with 3 HP sounds like overkill -- and it's funny to think that such a switch will save so much money.

    2. We've got two 20 amp breakers running to the pool equipment. I've read in some places online that this new pump needs its own 220 service, but two 110s (like our current set-up) should work, right? When my husband checks the electricity running to the current pump, he says it's 240, and he says it shouldn't be a problem, so maybe I'm just overthinking it.

    3. We're hoping to replace both the existing pump and the booster pump with a single variable-speed pump, and get a pool cleaner (like a Kreepy Krawler Legend II) that doesn't need a booster pump. Is it a simple replacement, or are there pitfalls or things to consider that we might not have thought of?

    4. Right now, our pumps are set up to work together. Each one has its own timer (a dial timer, like you see on tank water heaters). We set the main pump to go, say, six hours a day, and we have it timed so the booster comes on for a couple of hours in the middle of that cycle. We like this because we "set it and forget it" -- but when we've talked to contractors about replacing the pump, they say that you can't automatically time a cleaner into the (new, VS) pump's cycle, but rather, you have to turn it on and off yourself every day. This doesn't sound right, does it? Shouldn't there be a way to run it all automatically, like we have now? So maybe we haven't been explaining it clearly to the contractors.

    The actual replacement and hooking up of everything, my husband feels he can do easily -- it's more a matter of choosing and buying the right equipment, so it will do what we want it to do, and so it goes fairly smoothly. The goals are (1) to have smaller electric bills, (2) to have updated but appropriate equipment (i.e., buy something good but not overbuy), (3) to avoid problems by knowing of any pitfalls ahead of time (are there any obvious fatal flaws with our plan?), and (4) to keep the convenience of having everything stay automatic.

    Thanks for reading all this, and thanks for any advice you can offer!

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    Welcome to TFP!

    1) That depends on what your electric rates are. If you are paying $0.30/kWh or more the IntelliFlo will pay for it's self very quickly. Everything that follows assumes your electric rates are high.
    2) Peak power draw on the IntelliFlo is fairly high, even though typical draw is really low. 20 amps should do it, but only if you don't have anything else significant on the same circuit.
    3) That approach works just fine.
    4) It is almost always very simple. The IntelliFlo has a builtin timer, run it at a higher speed and the cleaner runs, run it at a lower speed and the cleaner stalls out but you still get water circulation. You can save a little more money with an automation system that turns off the cleaner line completely, but that is just icing on the cake and not necessary,

    There are other pumps you could look at, but unless you have a non-Pentair automation system already or need to keep up front costs down for some reason, the IntelliFlo is a good choice.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    Thanks, JasonLion!

    Great -- yes, our rates vary in "tiers" from 15-47 cents, but any savings from running a more efficient pump comes off of the top tier you're paying in any month. When I ran the numbers based on all of last year's bills, I figured it would pay for itself in about three years. Even less maybe, when you throw in the $100 rebate from PG&E. It just sounded funny to me to be buying a 3 HP pump.

    Okay thanks so much for the help. I feel more confident now -- my husband is great at figuring things out, but I wanted to make sure we're buying equipment that seemed appropriate and weren't headed for some DIY nightmare (since we're fairly new to having a pool and totally new to replacing the equipment).

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    So instead of getting the 3HP pump, why not get one of the newer smaller VS pumps that still qualifies for the rebate?

    Either the Pentair Superflo VS or the Hayward Max-flo VS or SuperPump VS?
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    So instead of getting the 3HP pump, why not get one of the newer smaller VS pumps that still qualifies for the rebate?

    Either the Pentair Superflo VS or the Hayward Max-flo VS or SuperPump VS?
    Well, that's a good question -- no one who gave a bid mentioned this pump as a possibility.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    Of course not, the other is more expensive
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    So instead of getting the 3HP pump, why not get one of the newer smaller VS pumps that still qualifies for the rebate?

    Either the Pentair Superflo VS or the Hayward Max-flo VS or SuperPump VS?
    I am wondering same thing. Those you listed have a $450 rebate. Im getting the pentair VS which is costing $150 out of pocket after rebate. OP, might want to look into one of those.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    One of the differences is that the smaller VS pumps require an external timer and give you only limited control over the speed. They start at one speed, and then switch to a lower speed after a preset time. You can program the two speeds and the time interval.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    One of the differences is that the smaller VS pumps require an external timer and give you only limited control over the speed. They start at one speed, and then switch to a lower speed after a preset time. You can program the two speeds and the time interval.
    Thanks for explaining the differences. I think for only a $200-ish difference, we'd rather have a built-in timer and more control over speed. It looks like the bigger pump can save more money too? Anyway, thanks.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    The bigger pump will not likely save any more than the smaller VS pump would.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: updating pool pump(s) from single to variable speed, looking for DIY input and ad

    Yeah, we get very few good reports of that liquid cover and the logic of it doesn't seem like it would be effective enough to justify the cost.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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